Why I love Israel…
I read an article this morning on msnbc.com that was discussing how the evangelical community is tightening its embrace on Israel. The author introduces to us an American Christian family who currently resides in Jerusalem and plays host every Friday night to “lone soldiers” as they are called. These are young men and women who travel from foreign countries to serve in the Israeli army. Every Shabbat they join with these young people for the traditional Shabbat meal and wine.
I just returned a few weeks ago from New Zealand where I met and fellowshipped with another such family who plays host to Israeli travelers on the weekends, providing Shabbat dinner and a place to sleep.
So many people including the author this article attempt to try and explain this connection, this love that Christians (and more specifically evangelicals) have for the people of Israel. This particular author proceeds in giving her own evaluation of the reasons behind the desire for Christians to connect with Israelis; and not just Israelis but the Jewish population as a whole. In one statement she says:
“The broad backing for Israelis in part grounded in a widely held evangelical belief that the existence of a Jewish state is a prerequisite for the second coming of Jesus.”
That statement at its core is essentially true. The Scriptures clearly establish the existence of Israel as a complete entity prior to the second coming of Messiah but what the author seems to miss, as do others who evaluate the Christian faith from the other side of the wall, is that scriptures merely show us what WILL happen, not what needs to be done IN ORDER for certain events to happen.
One of the great joys that I have found in my personal walk with God is the understanding that God’s will is going to come about whether I choose to be involved or not. But he does ask me (as He does the rest of us) to become active participants in the work he has already begun.
She also draws in the widespread belief that part of the love that Christians have forIsraelstems from a widespread fear and hatred of Islam. Munther Isaac, an instructor at Bethlehem Bible College states:
“We definitely believe that they (U.S.evangelical leaders) are Islamaphobic and that is hindering them from having the right approach toward Islam.”
“The more we demonize Islam in our talks, in our books, in our sermons, the more we polarize them…it’s like feeding the enemy and empowering the more radical voice, and we shouldn’t do that.”
Once again this is a sad and very small view of how the majority of Christians look at the world. It is true that there are small sectors of those who claim the name of Jesus (Yeshua) who in no way represent what the Bible calls righteousness. And unfortunately these are the ones that the world loves to focus on. (Which I find ironic seeing that most of the world would so quickly step in and stand up for Islam saying that most Muslims are not radicals, most of them are peaceful and good. Yet when addressing Christians the same courtesy is never extended. But that is another entry entirely.)
If you visit the website of the International Mission Board, which is one of the largest evangelical mission organizations, you will find that so much of their outreach is in countries that are considered Muslim countries. I have listened to the hearts of many a missionary who express a deep rooted love for the Muslim people. These are individuals who grieve over the darkness that consumes a people who do not posses the joy and light that Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, brings. I have heard so many accounts of Muslims coming to faith through dreams and visions. My point is that God desires and longs for the hearts of ALL men and therefore asks those who believe to go out and be witnesses even to the remotest parts of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
So to claim that Christians or evangelicals as a whole possess a hatred and phobia of those who practice Islam is tunnel visioned and inaccurate. I ask those who have listened to the false claims of the world and the media to seek out the truth and discover instead the deep love that Christians have for the people of the world.
Well that sums up my introduction.
So what about this strange connection, or bond if you will, that Christians experience with the Jewish people?
Is it to hasten the coming of the Messiah? Is it so God will bless us because we blessIsrael? Are we simply trying to “convert” people like so many throughout history have done?
I love Israel. I love the Israeli people.
The only way I can answer this question about why Christians feel drawn to the people of Israelis to express and share with you the understanding that I have gained from the Word of God and to share with you His own heart for Israel as is revealed in the Scriptures.
God’s Salvation began with Israel. He called them out to be His people. He separated them from the rest of the world and called them peculiar, set apart for His Glory. They were called out to be the sole witness to the world of the One True God. Throughout the whole of Scripture the world has been described as having two different peoples: the Jews and the Gentiles. Those of us, all of us, who are not born Jewish are considered Gentiles. Jesus (as the western world calls Him. Yeshua to the those speaking Hebrew.) was born a Jew. He was a descendant from the line of Judah, just as the Old Testament prophesies said that the Messiah would be. He came to Israel, to the Jewish people and it was the Jewish believers, the ones he had revealed Himself as Messiah to, who were the first ones to spread the good news of His salvation to the rest of the world. We, the Gentiles, are the wild olive branch that has been grafted into the vine; and while the corporate rejection of God’s ultimate plan for atonement (Yeshua; Jesus) was something that grieved the very heart of God, it was the only way to bring salvation to the rest of the world. It was God’s divine plan all a long.
As Gentiles we now have the great responsibility to carry the message of salvation until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 says:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery– so that you will not be wise in your own estimation– that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”
A partial hardening. God is not finished with Israel! Though the hearts of the people of Israel have been hardened for a time, and a veil has been placed over their eyes, there will come a day when every Gentile who would believe will believe and that great harvest that begun 2,000 years ago will end. On that day God will once again open the hearts of His people! (Isaiah 11-12)
Why do I love Israel? Because God loves Israel! We are brothers in the same family. Gentiles and Jews, while different in identity, are purposed to ultimately one day be united again in our Father’s house. And in the end, when Israel once again carries the banner of salvation through Yeshua the Messiah we will gather together as one body in pure unadulterated worship to the Lord who is sovereign over all! For He does not forget his promises and he does not break His covenants.
So for all of the believers out there I encourage you to continue sharing Messiah with the world! Share with the Muslims, the Atheists, the Hindus, and the Buddhists; for the fullness of the Gentiles has yet to come. We possess the message of eternal life so out of love share it! But don’t forget our brother,Israel, whom God still loves and will one day draw back into the fellowship of His family!